When the Redford Sentinel launched back in April, my hope was that the publication would gain a little momentum each month as township residents became aware of it. I hoped that folks would recognize the value of a news outlet devoted 100 percent to Redford.
Some people have. I can’t tell you how much the support and encouragement I’ve received means to me.
I am not a Redford native but the township means a great deal to my wife and I. We adopted our children from the Children’s Methodist Home Society on Six Mile and bought our first home on Lola Drive.
I lost count how many times we pulled our boys in a red wagon up to Vicky’s Homemade Ice Cream for an evening treat. And when they could walk, I took them to Claude Allison and chased them around the playground.
As with any business, however, there are economic realities that can’t be ignored. Which is why I must be upfront with you, dear reader, the Sentinel needs additional support to be able to continue.
When I say support, I mean subscribers. I set a goal of 250 subscribers in the first year of business. The current count is 48. Unless there is substantial growth within the next few months, the Sentinel will be forced to cease publication.
Most new businesses struggle in their first year and many don’t survive. Given that fact and also the state of news organizations in America, I knew success would be difficult to achieve.
Readers aren’t used to paying for news upfront. I get it. But news organizations that continue to rely on advertising dollars are failing rapidly. The New York Times and Washington Post are two examples of companies that have put their articles behind paywalls to help stay in business.
That trend will continue.
Changes To The Sentinel
Beyond declining revenue, I wanted the Sentinel to be fundamentally different than other news outlets. I did not want readers to encounter some of the over-the-top methods used by others — automatically playing advertising videos, sponsored content, and clickbait (you know what I’m talking about: “Jane Fonda was beautiful in the 1970s. Try not to smile when you see how she looks now…”).
To that end, the Sentinel has been successful. We’ve managed to cover township news without a single reader being hit over the head with annoying advertisements.
As expected, some folks have bristled at having to pay to read. Nobody likes the paywall. Hell, I don’t like the paywall. In fact, I thought about contacting Governor-Elect Gretchen Whitmer to see if she could “fix the damn paywall.”
But it’s necessary. I’ve tried to make it as painless as possible by charging just $4 per month. That number hasn’t changed and will not change for the foreseeable future.
You’ll notice that I’ve removed the option of paying for a year upfront. With things as iffy as they are right now, I thought it best to leave subscriptions at a month-to-month basis. If the Sentinel does cease to publish, subscribers that paid for a year in advance will have their money refunded on a pro-rated basis.
I’ve also suspended the weekly publication of the Sentinel’s free newsletter.
If you enjoy the Sentinel, if you think getting consistent coverage focused solely on Redford is important, I need your help. For subscribers, I’m not asking that you dig in your wallet again.
What I’m asking is that you act as an advocate — tell your non-subscriber friends about the Sentinel. Encourage them to check it out.
Editor & Publisher
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